Last summer, against the advice of a few of our best friends, John and I hosted a Frontline crew for interviews over the better part of a Saturday afternoon. The interview footage may have been left on the cutting room floor, but the Frontline series that brought the crew here will air in four installments starting February 13 (check local listings). The series is entitled “The News War” and Frontline has set up a page previewing the series at the link. The series will have an online component to which this post is intended to contribute.
Parts 1 and 2 of the series address the political and legal forces confronting the media today, including “the line between legitimate national security concerns and the public’s right to know.” On the series preview page, Frontline has posted six video clips. Two of the clips are excerpted from interviews with New York Times executive editor Bill Keller and former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin. In the two interview clips they are asked most pointedly about the Times story disclosing the existence of the NSA terrorist eavesdropping program.
Keller has never subjected himself to an interview on the subject by anyone knowledgeable of the legal issues raised by the Times’s conduct and the Frontline interview unfortuntately appears not to constitute an exception. Nevertheless, I highly recommend the interview clips with Keller and McLaughlin that Frontline has posted (as well as the clips posted from two other parts of the series). They are extremely interesting.
Last year I addressed the legal issues in the column “Exposure.” I have freely drawn from that column in the following comment on the question setting the public’s right to know against national security security concerns that Frontline raises in the first and second parts of the series.
Frontline formulates the question in the clich
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